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Tournament Directors


You are the Tournament Director Series 4: All the Players on One Table Take an Unscheduled Break

This one was posted on the Mob Forum by Danmonkey

“Okay, happened to me tonight and I have never before seen anything like it:

Ten pound (£10) NLH rebuy tournament at a casino. 48 runners, £1500 prize pool (300,000 chips in play), pays 6 places – tournament is self deal (player dealt) until the 9-handed final.

There are 11 players left in on two tables. 18 minutes left on the clock at 800/1600 before a scheduled 10 minute break.

The table of 5 simultaneously 'decide' to all go to the toilet and get up and walk off. They don't return for 10 minutes. All their chips and cards are left on the table and with no players left, obviously no hands are dealt. I was shocked.

What do you do?

Would your ruling be any different if it wasn’t self dealt and all the 5 players did the same thing?

No prizes for guessing which table I was sat at!”

Matt SavageMatt Savage:
First of all I would make the other table stop dealing as well and then give them a break and then skip the scheduled break. Upon their return I would ask them what in the heck are they thinking and more importantly did they remember to wash their hands?

Thomas KremserThomas Kremser:
In a tournament with a dealer this situation would never happen because the dealer will keep dealing until the end of the round. If players decide to stand up all together, the dealer should call the TD who should rule that the dealer keeps dealing no matter what. I have no experience in self deal tournaments but this situation would clearly be unfair to the other table. As it is so close to the final table the players would normally watch the other table carefully and shout if the other table takes an unscheduled break,and the TD would have to stop the clock. Now that 10 minutes has passed I would stop the game on the 6 handed table for 10 minutes and I would let the 5 handed table play for 10 minutes to catch up, then continue together.

Jack EffelJack Effel:
Because the tournament is self dealt, players at the other table should stop play and freeze the clock until all players return from their toilet break. That would be in all fairness and in the best interest of the tournament. If at least two players have returned after five minutes or a reasonable amount of time, they should resume play and pass the deal. If not, suggest having a person who is not involved in the tournament act as a dealer and resume play.

If this were a tournament being dealt by dealers and all the players decided to take an unscheduled break, I would rule to stop play at the second table, and make an announcement for all players to return to their seats within five minutes. After five minutes, I would resume play and have the dealer blind off anyone not present.

Nicolas FraioliNicolas Fraioli:
We don’t have any self deal tables (tournaments or cash games) at the Aviation Club De France.

In this case I would tell the dealer from the other table to stop dealing and to take the break now, because the players on this table shouldn’t be disadvantaged playing more hands than the other players. My decision would be that all the players who left the table would get a penalty of one orbit as soon as we reach the final table.

Dave SimpsonDave Simpson:
All players are entitled to leave the table as they wish . However, in any tournament if the clock is running the tournament continues regardless of how many players are present at the table.

If there are no players at the table in a deaer dealt competition all blinds and antes are collected as normal, the hand is dealt and if no player is present at the conclusion of the deal this will become a dead pot. It will carry on in this manner, creating several dead pots. If a player is all in in one pot and not present for the end of the deal of the next hand he is eliminated from the tournament.

In a self deal tournament the blinds and antes would be posted according to how many hands had been played on the corresponding table in this period creating a large dead pot and possible elimination for anyone short stacked .

This also comes with a recommendation - travel a little further to an establishment that is dealer dealt .

Tab DuchateauTab Duchateau:
All players at a table taking an unscheduled break during a tournament cannot be tolerated. I don’t have any instances where a dealer wouldn’t be present, so my ruling would only be a dealer in the box ruling. I would have the dealer continue to deal…. shuffle, get antes and blinds, deal the cards out, then take the antes and blinds for each hand, until a player returned, out of play. The players would find fewer chips in their stacks upon their return, and I imagine they wouldn’t try that again.

The Mob Verdict

How many times have you sat down at the start of an Multi Table Tournament and heard someone joke: 'Why don't we all pass the blinds round all day so that we all get into the money?' Well, you like to think it's a joke. It sounds as though someone on the table made a similar suggestion and through a kind of naive deviousness they convinced themselves they could slip off unnoticed and come back when they were all in the final. Or maybe they really did just take an unscheduled toilet break and didn't consider the other table.

Either way, this amounts to a stroke and we sympathise with those TDs who want to penalise them in some way. However, the most important thing is to ensure that the remaining table is not disadvantaged in any way. We think that Thomas described perfectly what needs to be done to rectify matters. Having the five handed table play on it's own for ten minutes to 'catch up' could result in an unusual situation where one or more players were knocked out and the tables could not be balanced or merged, but the chance of players being knocked out during those ten minutes is precisely why it is the correct and fair thing to do.

It should also be said that the action taken by the five handed table can be viewed as a form of collusion. The tournament director should take a view of how cynical and deliberate their action was. If he wants to give them the benefit of any doubt he should at least issue a warning with any further infraction resulting in time penalties or even removal from the tournament.

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